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Victimization for sexual orientation increases suicidal behavior in college students
Date:9/24/2007

e kinds of numbers.

The study was provoked by a question from a 15-year-old gay male while Murphy was working on an internship as a school psychologist at a high school. The youth, who was suicidal and using drugs, asked her, Does it get better in college" She didnt know.

To find out Murphy recruited 528 participants 404 heterosexuals, 79 same-sex attracted heterosexuals, 38 gays, lesbians and bisexuals, and 7 who said they were not sure of their sexual identity. The students ranged in age from 17 to 26, with a mean age of 19, and 63 percent of them were female.

Data from the questionnaires showed that gay, lesbian and bisexuals and the same-sex attracted heterosexuals experienced significantly more verbal and physical victimization than did heterosexual students. Verbal victimization included homophobic statements, hearing others talk about gays, lesbian and bisexuals in derogatory terms, and being harassed for their sexual orientation. Physical victimization included being physically threatened or assaulted and getting into fights. Murphy said victimization for some students was pervasive on campus while others didnt want to go off campus because they feared being harassed or would only visit areas of Seattle popular with gays in groups.

There is a lot of hype that gay kids are more suicidal, she said. My study shows that this is not so. In my study, being victimized for being gay was the risk factor that increased suicidal- behavior risk.

She said the high suicidal-behavior rate among the same-sex attracted heterosexuals was a surprise, primarily because researchers previously had not looked at them as a separate group. I was shocked by the finding because the rate for these students was just off the charts, Murphy said.

There are two possible explanations for this, according to Murphy. One is that these people are still in the process of determining their sexual identity and the period before they disclo
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Contact: Joel Schwarz
joels@u.washington.edu
206-543-2580
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

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